Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton August 30, 2018

Augenblick mal! Theoretische Überlegungen und methodische Zugänge zur Erforschung sozialer Variation in der Deutschen Gebärdensprache

In the blink of an eye. Theoretical considerations and methodological approaches to the exploration of social variation in German Sign Language
Hanna Jaeger and Anita Junghanns

Abstract

Deaf sign language users oftentimes claim to be able to recognise straight away whether their interlocutors are native signers. To date it is unclear, however, what exactly such judgement calls might be based on. The aim of the research presented was to explore whether specific articulatory features are being associated with signers that have (allegedly) acquired German Sign Language (Deutsche Gebärdensprache, DGS) as their first language. The study is based on the analysis of qualitative and quantitative data. Qualitative data were generated in ten focus group settings. Each group was made up of three participants and one facilitator. Deaf participants’ meta-linguistic claims concerning linguistic features of ‘native signing’ (i. e. what native signing looks like) were qualitatively analysed using grounded theory methods. Quantitative data were generated via a language assessment experiment designed around stimulus material extracted from DGS corpus data. Participants were asked to judge whether or not individual clips extracted from a DGS corpus had been produced by a native signer. Against the backdrop of the findings identified in the focus group data, the stimulus material was subsequently linguistically analysed in order to identify specific linguistic features that might account for some clips to be judged as ‘produced by a native signer’ as opposed to others that were claimed to have been ‘articulated by a non-native signer’. Through juxtaposing meta-linguistic perspectives, the results of a language perception experiment and the linguistic analysis of the stimulus material, the study brings to the fore specific crystallisation points of linguistic and social features indexing linguistic authenticity. The findings break new ground in that they suggest that the face as articulator in general, and micro-prosodic features expressed in the movement of eyes, eyebrows and mouth in particular, play a significant role in the perception of others as (non-)native signers.

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Online erschienen: 2018-08-30
Erschienen im Druck: 2018-09-01

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